The Instituto Cervantes, which is promoting the teaching, study and use of Spanish as a second language, was at first planning to release this Saturday 150 balloons with excerpts from a Rizal’s poem inside, coinciding with the celebration of the International Spanish Day.
The Instituto Cervantes confirmed with the EcoWaste Coalition last Thursday that they would no longer release balloons in deference to some comments received.
The EcoWaste Coalition, which has earlier cited the national hero for his role in promoting community health and environment, lauded the Instituto Cervantes for being sensitive to public opinion.
“We thank and praise the Instituto Cervantes for listening to people’s suggestions to scrap the mass release of balloons to prevent the possibility of the balloons littering the Manila Bay,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We trust that other event organizers will follow suit and celebrate Rizal’s heroism in more environment-friendly ways that will not create trash and endanger the lives of helpless marine creatures,” he stated.
“Rizal, an ichthyologist who had collected 38 new varieties of fish during his exile in Dapitan, would surely not mind missing the balloons for the health and safety of marine life,” Alvarez said.
“While latex baloons that descend to the sea will biodegrade over time, the process of degradation can last for months during which marine animals can ingest them, blocking their digestive systems and starving them to death,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.
Citing a factsheet published by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) of UK, the EcoWaste Coalition said that balloons “can become a serious form of marine pollution” that “may last many months with potentially harmful consequences.”
“A long list of marine creatures have been reported with balloons in their stomachs. It is believed that they mistake balloons and other buoyant plastics for their natural prey ,e.g. jellyfish and squid, and eat them,” the MCS said.
The string tied to balloons is a particular problem as they can lead to entanglement, the MCS also warned.
MCS Pollution Factsheet on Balloon Releases: